Dear Trans Women: It’s Okay to Enjoy Being Kinky and Fetishized

Let me start here: As a self-identified trans woman in the dating world, safety is more than a PrEP prescription.

Depending on your situation, it usually requires either keeping our identity (read: transness) a secret to your prospective partners, informing your partners but maintaining secrecy to those close to them, or telling your partners once trust has been developed while leaving family matters up in the air. All the while, we internalize the shame of that and hope to evoke feminine pastiche. In this world, women have to retrofit their personalities and identities and belief systems into the relationship to make it work – trans or not. This goes for those looking to date outside their religion, their race, their ethnicity, their outlook on parenthood, their political affiliation. The viewpoints espoused by our partners and those who claim dominion in their lives from birth relegate women of all stripes to a certain form of secrecy. 

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Overlooked is the cisgender woman who need not mention on the first date she’s infertile because of a health condition, but scrutinized heavily is the post-op transgender woman who doesn’t bring up the childbearing implausibility presented by her neo-vagina. The common wisdom among transgender women is that one must be honest about themselves in order to fully baptize a relationship. Those who exist in secrecy, even for a little while, are considered dishonest, conniving, mischievous. Or at the very least, playing a dangerous game – especially if they have not had gender-confirming surgeries.

For me, there is—in my mind—no logical position for which being a secret, a treasure, a trophy, is a problem. Is living the ‘trophy wife’ archetype a relic of patriarchy, or is it a reflection of the polish brought about by confidence and security in that which men most desire? 

In espousing the idiosyncrasy of being “jack off material” but “banned from the public bathroom,” the onus is often upon trans women to navigate those waters. My view is probably a minority, because I work in the sex industry and I date another trans person (a trans man), who is also in the sex industry. Most of us in this field end up oppositely affected: intensely wounded by the expectation of secrecy, discretion, dehumanization, etc. And we stay that way. But I will always appraise my self worth first. Trans women have a ‘who we are’ obsession and a lack of appreciation for ‘who we were.’ 

Demanding transparency from partners hurts stealth girls, working girls, and the culturally misrepresented among us. It denies everybody room for growth. It stigmatizes, it predicates reactionary behavior. Sometimes a girl will stay a secret, and she’ll want it that way. She can still be cognizant of the way she intersects with the racial, sexual, religious, and cultural love identities of the people (let’s just say it: the men) who pursue her (us). Let’s think of the girls who are more at risk before we get all up in trade’s face (Grindr DMs), okay?

Right off the bat, we open the door to misunderstanding when we think guys being open/out is “honesty”, or that their “experience” is understanding/empathy. Do more to care for yourself, abandon cynicism, and it will discourage those seeking advantage. No guy you date ever needs to redefine their entire social role for your transition. We can ignore it all we like, but our transition does not negate the rubric of male privilege we inherited. Fleeing to the dating middle ground and the culture to which it subscribes is unvaccinated terror. 

There’s so much out there, ready to suck you in. 

Lots of teeth, too. 

Looking back through terrible cisgender history, an androgynous icon Annie Lennox espoused the pitfalls of love to addiction, vanity, and stranger danger. Defining it, for me. “It’s guilt-edged, glamorous and sleek by design; you know it’s jealous by nature, false and unkind,” she delivered on lead-in track, “Love Is A Stranger.” On the same album, the title track “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” conveyed a similar notion through its lyrics, and the subtext of shame and violence formed a bee-line through the androgyne at its helm. Men will pay you. They will just as easily kill you. They might ignore you, too. The video itself propagated the narrative that Annie Lennox, portraying a high-class escort, might be a “male-to-female transvestite.” The understanding of her sexual identity shifted. Our image has always been based in sartorial artifice and sexual dogma – wigs, prostitution, fur, New York, NSA hookups, pay for play, etc. It creates a stigma, but there’s a resolute theme that the fantasy of it lasting is what defines it. After all, everybody is searching for something. Some people just want to use you. Trans women can’t all hope for that to change – I don’t. I say use ‘em, too. 

I’ll say it: it’s okay to be, date, fuck, befriend a chaser. It’s okay to be kinky. It’s okay to let our bodies be fetishized if we so desire.

It’s okay to engage in taboo behaviors as long as they don’t threaten anyone’s livelihood. It’s okay to pussy stunt. Ask yourself: is being a tranny chaser worse than being a chubby chaser? Or a cougar? That kind of flexibility in opinion will matter down the road, because society is gonna take the opportunity to call us deceptive. The fringes of male society reveal their own nature and hurt themselves attempting to hurt us – the smart girls screened them, I myself have a thousand individual cocks stuffed into a rolodex. Maybe some men who like us are gay? Or bi? 

Who cares? 

Trans women can choose to be the absentee landlords of our own bodies, provided we mortgage our minds. My advice: see who’s really here for the girls, and you might need to own up to jumping the gun with the men you wanted in the meantime. I’ve done it. We all have. But the need to be spotlighted as a trans woman in the life of your partner (his family, friends), while insulating yourself in the dream of passing unscrupulously beyond him, is mildly hypocritical. Your lover should be a safe space, not your insulation. We’re not supposed to be understood for our biological reality, I guess, unless it’s while coopting the identity of those who are proud enough to date us? 

Couldn’t be me. 

Our heterosexual, proud boyfriends? Please be tall, please make me look small, please tell your family about me, please love all of my body but not in a gay way. We can be cruel, too, by demanding love. So let’s be mindful of all the hidden relationships across party lines, age gaps, ethnic and racial divides, career barriers, and size differences, etc. 

Let’s stop shining all this light for men who never saw it for us anyway, and focus the light on each other. 

Photo below: Author Francesca Elizabeth (aka Angelina Please) and her boyfriend Luke Hudson. Follow her on Instagram.

Cover photo by David Hurley on Unsplash.

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